She is his ghost.

Her very name is a poem to his soul, even though she is gone, living in another city, state, hell, maybe even another country, for all that he knows. She's floated on, dissapeared between highways and flight plans, somewhere too far away for him to see. He feels her absence everywhere, on everything she'd touched and some things that she hadn't.

He'd never have planned on it. She'd wormed her way into his solitary, lonely life filled with people who didn't know the things he held inside. Her hands formed bruises on his being, her small fingers working the intricate knots in which his heart was built of. She was cigarette smoke, a sunset, things that didn't make sense and never will.

When he sleeps at night, he dreams of her beside him, red lips and blonde hair, alive and bright and untouchable.

She'd been doing blow in the bathroom.

Her pupils were big and her hips were swaying to an unknown rhythm, like she knew a set of steps that no one else could grasp. She was a professional dancer in a drug addict's body, he thought, as he rounded the corner, his eyes catching on her form. She smirked at him like they'd never met, and he felt like eveytime he saw her, she was a different person.

His friend tells him, "That girl's like a fucking disease," and she very well may be.

Her hair is curled, but the heat is causing it to frizz and her red lipstick is a vibrant shock to the white of her skin. She has a huge set of blue eyes, darkened with liner and smudged with shadow. She's a mess, but a perfect one, like she'd planned it all along. She takes a shot of whiskey from the bar, and her laugh tells him she's always the life of the party. Her friends are a backdrop to her personality, smiling along with her but never matching her intensity. He wonders if they know she is the one everyone notices.

He's not one to make a move, he usually lets things come to him, but this, this he can not refuse. She's on the dance floor, messing up the lyrics to a song she doesn't know by a band with no name, and he flows behind her, orbiting the world she lives in like he doesn't quite know how to land. She turns, her eyes meeting his for the first of what he hopes is many times. She doesn't smile, he notes, she only smirks, but she directs it at him, takes his hand and pulls him up close to her. She makes his body sway the way hers does, and he feels, for once, like he's made the right decision.

She tells him her name is Anna.

She's a college drop out but she knows more than he thinks he ever will.

She reads books like Anna Karenina, listens to music like Margot & the Nuclear So and So's, writes poems like Sylvia Plath. She is a well of information, stories that no one else has heard, words they never knew exsisted. She tells him things in bed that he wishes he could write down and keep forever.

Her mother calls her on Tuesdays.

She never picks up, at least when he's around, and he wonders what that means. He asks, but only once, the look in her eyes telling him not to push the subject. He reads her body's signs, knows when to stop and when to go.

"I don't belong at home," she says, face far away, in another time, "I never did."

He wonders what that means, if it means anything. With her, it's always hard to tell.

Elizabeth tells him, "No matter how much I love you, no matter how much I fucking try, you'll always be just like this. God, I've wasted my time."

He'll write about her later, but, now, he just lets her walk out the door. It's the fifth time she's told him she's going to quit him, though, now, it feels more final. He knows he should be sad, he should, he should, but, well.

He's better on the inside, he swears.

The only way he was ever going to fall in love was hopelessly.

He knows that now, as Anna fades in to the distance, her leftover tube of lipstick sitting untouched on his dresser. He could've never hoped for anything close to normal.

His friend, the same one from the first night, says, "Dude, have a drink. I told you she'd ruin your life."

So he does. And another. So many that when last call comes he can't walk out the door.

It's easier to pretend like this is something other than what it is.

In his head, he imagines this is the good kind of love, the right kind that the movies show. Not the tragic kind in books that people mourn for months, years, the kind that they never let go.

Anna does a line on his coffee table and kisses him so hard that he sees stars and it's pretty obvious which love story is theirs.

She's getting drunk in his kitchen.

She keeps slamming the bottle of whiskey down on the counter like each time will be her last, but then she'll pick it back up and take another swig. There's something poetic in the way that she drinks, but he's missing the point.

He wants to tell her she's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen, but she'd just shake her head, so he keeps the comment beneath his tongue.

He's rolling a joint when Anna asks him what home is like.

Home is miles and miles away. An ACT score was his ticket out of that hell hole that never really was a hell hole to anyone but him. He's been here since 18, and when graduation time comes, he knows he won't go back. The air is stifling there, and he can't tell her why he feels that way, but she nods like she understands.

Elizabeth breaks a glass out of his cabinet.

"God damn it, Carter! God damn it," and then she's slamming the door, running away, down the sidewalk into her shiny red car. He thinks she only sticks around because it makes her life more exciting. He thinks she only wants a little something for her dreams.

He longs for more. Maybe he wants a little something, too.

Anna is playing classical music in his house and working her way through a bottle of moscato.

She twirls the wine glass in her fingers, "Baby, you're a little miracle," she says, "You're just in time."

And then she kisses him with all the force of a hurricane's winds. It is his saving grace.

(Once, he thought life was dull.)

Anna is twirling around in her party dress.

His sister is getting married and Anna opened the invitation two weeks ago and squealed. She loves weddings, apparently.

"How do I look?" She asks, a smirk on her face, and she already knows she's beautiful.

"Like a painting," he says, picture perfect.

She drinks too much champagne at the reception and she's wrapped around him on the dance floor as the string band plays. Her body fits his like nothing else, and she breathes on his neck, whispers, "I've never been so close."

She's doing a bump off her hand in the lounge, the music beating through the walls. He wants to take away the stash of coke she's got in her purse, but he'd never have the nerve. He wonders if she'll grow out of it.

"Baby," she says, all hyped up and his skin is fine tuned to hers, like a radio frequency only he can intercept, "Baby."

And that's all she has to say.

She's crying on the floor of his bedroom. He drops his keys in the hallway.

"I'm just so wrong, Carter. I'm wrong."

He doesn't know what that means but he hugs her until her tears dry up.

Serena, a dark-haired Anna clone with a lot less charm, tells him that he's a hopeless romantic in a loveless world.

"Everyone's fucked, baby boy," she says, and Anna pours them shots and becomes the life of the party. It is all a little too much for him to take.

Everyone has an Anna, he decides, a year after her departure, her note written in red lipstick on his mirror, the I love you that she never could say fading away with time.

Everyone has this tragic shitstorm in their life. Everyone loves someone that they can't save.

Or, at least, that's what he keeps telling himself.